Morning Ed: World Politics {2018.04.03.T}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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78 Responses

  1. Will H. says:

    [WP4] The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system

    That’s funny.
    At least, it would be if it weren’t so sad.

    Wonder if Nigeria’s going to swing the election.
    That would be funny.
    At least, it would be if it weren’t so sad.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    WP1: Too bad that 16 and 17 year old boys seem to make for bad or lazy administrators. There was a reason why regencies existed when the monarch was bellow eighteen or even bellow his early twenties.

    WP2: The article is right that the distinction between genuine asylum seeker and economic migrant is fuzzy. People doing well tend to put up with a lot more persecution before they leave to seek asylum. Poor people have no economic reasons to stay, so they leave earlier and their decision to seek asylum is partially based on that. Persecution often has an economic dimension. Its kind of like how people get disappointed that you can be a genuine asylum seekers and something of an a-hole personality wise rather than a saintly individual.

    WP3: Like I frequently noted, multiparty systems work horribly in a Presidential system because a very divided legislature has no reason to form coalitions and work together like they do in Parliamentary systems. Parliamentary systems encourage coalition formation because you get a chance to control the executive or participate in it.

    WP4: Paper based voting technology is the best voting technology.Report

  3. Will H. says:

    [WP7] I got a little suspicious around here:
    analytical leaders might be best for managing an organization of predominantly analytical people

    It just isn’t supported by the evidence.
    Conventional wisdom says that good leaders are somewhat extroverted, but this isn’t always the case.
    Conventional wisdom gets people pretty fished up sometimes.
    Task allotment and competency are crucial in this determination.
    In a crew with a high level of competency, the one with introvert tendencies tends to make the better group leader.

    That’s when I started looking at this analytical/emotional dichotomy.
    It seems to assume that all analysis is somewhat similar, and the same for emotion.
    I’m thinking they need to dig a bit deeper.
    A hole filling with ground water is not a well.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    Kevin D. Williamson’s first column for the Atlantic is roughly what I expected and shows who the Atlantic is aiming for:

    It is a very good piece of BSDI. Or maybe ASDI. He lambasts the libertarians for folding into Trumpism but also gets some get straw man digs at that the Democrats as well.

    My guess is that Williamson was hired to get nods of approval from CEOs and other rich types at Aspen.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Or, and call me crazy here, The Atlantic is trying to get its reputation back as an important, thoughtful magazine and not a bubble fan ‘zine. You do that by have as many different viewpoints as possible.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to Aaron David says:

        The Atlantic’s first editor was a fervent abolitionist, making it, presumably, a bubble fan ‘zine.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Aaron David says:


        Yeah no. Williamson previously argued that women who got abortion should be murdered. His other big contribution was sneering at poor rural whites and poor urban minorities (especially blacks) with equal amounts of disdain and contempt. Also his infamous piece on East St. Louis sounded largely like fabrication.Report

        • Aaron David in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          So, bubble it is then.

          It’s what the people want.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          No, those aren’t Williamson’s big contributions; they’re the things his critics harp on. The man is a great thinker and a great writer. I don’t much care what The Atlantic thought they were getting; they’ve got Williamson, and that means they’ve got someone who will pursue his thoughts wherever they lead him, as any public intellectual should.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David says:

        As others have pointed out, if the Atlantic really wanted diverse viewpoints, it would hire an unapologetic Trump supporter.
        Except as has also been pointed out, there are none who can write such columns without sounding like the deranged uncle at Thanksgiving.

        Instead what they seem to be doing is trying to praise Trump with faint damns.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Williamson takes aim at libertarians, and ends up shooting conservatism in the heart:

      Postwar conservatism, under the intellectual leadership of Buckley, Frank Meyer, and their allies, was, famously, a “fusion”—an alliance between social and religious traditionalists, anti-Communists and national-security hawks, and libertarians ranging from ideologues and idealists such as Henry Hazlitt and Ludwig von Mises to Chamber of Commerce types with their more prosaic concerns about taxes and regulation.

      The Christian right was able to make its peace with Trump with relative ease, because it is moved almost exclusively by reactionary kulturkampf considerations. “But Hillary!” is all that Falwell and company need to hear, and they won’t even hold out for 30 pieces of silver. The Chamber of Commerce made peace, being as it is one of the conservative constituencies getting what it wants out of the Trump administration: tax cuts and regulatory reform. The hawks are getting what they want, too, lately: John Bolton in the White House and an extra $61 billion in military spending in the latest budget bill.

      OK, Kevin, so Trump is the perfect conservative President..

      So what the eff are you complaining about?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Pretty much. Jason K often notes that there are a lot of libertarians and supposedly liberty loving conservatives who “hate the left more than they love liberty.” This reads like an unintentional confession.Report

        • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          The Atlantic already has Conor Friedersdorf, a libertarian. He writes well, is thoughtful and isn’t the “embarrassed republican” kind of libertarian. They have Frum. They didn’t need Williamson to have a conservative voice. It seems like the critics who say they needed Williamson to show a conservative view haven’t’ actually read the magazine. They should have just had Conor F write more oftenReport

          • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:

            I dissent on Conor F. I don’t think he is as bad as others but he practices what I call the Pollyanna/Polite Tea Party version of free speech in which he imagines that a White Supremacists and minorities can hold conservations on the humanity of minorities in the tones of an exceedingly polite tea party. I seriously imagine Conor thinks a conversation can go like this:

            “Richard Spencer: I say, good fellow, it is such a shame that you types are not full humans deserving of political and social rights. And how those dreadful Jews and their world banking-communism support you.

            Anti-Racist Protestor: My dear man, I must disagree with what you said entirely.

            Richard Spencer: Is this so? Care for a petit fours?

            Anti-Racist Protestor: Yes. Please.”Report

    • Nah, I don’t think the Aspen folks are big on Williamson. Stephens, maybe.

      Rather, I think Jeffrey Goldberg recognizes that the space The Atlantic has occupied is over-saturated at the moment. Up until recently, there wasn’t much daylight between the voices of The Atlantic, Vox, Slate (the days of the #Slatepitch are long gone), and maybe TNR, and others. They had Conor F, but for the most part it’s the high liberal combination of economic center-to-center-left and social leftistry that really cut into their relevance as an outlet. So Goldberg has sought to change the mold, and in came Frum.

      And for Goldberg in particular, I think he also recognizes that he is somewhere on the border of the acceptable parameters of the left due to his views on Israel. Frum, of course, will never be accepted by most of the people complaining about Williamson. So both of them have some incentive to push back against the recent push towards narrowing or pushing left the parameters of acceptable political discourse.

      Honestly, if I were them I would not have hired Williamson in particular. But I also know that most of the people I would have considered would have been dismissed as unacceptable anyway. So with that in mind, I’m glad that they stuck their ground and didn’t play what is ultimately a losing game for anyone outside of the broader left.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        Maybe. I think the Atlantic has had a center-left and largely college-educated professional readership for a long time and they should just embrace it. I think a lot of the frustration among the center-left readership is it seems assumed that it is okay to be a right-leaning publication without any left-wing voices but left-leaning publications need to strive hard for balance and getting some conservatives in. Why can the Wall Street Journal be free of left-leaning writers but NY Times readers or Atlantic readers are constantly told that their paradigms are being challenged by glib contrarians like Stephens and Weiss. Or we did to get Ross D and Conor F’s concern trolling.

        I think Chip’s reading of the essay is largely right. I don’t disagree with anything Williamson is saying except the need to Straw Man at the end and make up the Democratic position.Report

        • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Honest answer is that leftie pubs are aiming higher and are better. Many conservatives will end up admitting conservo pubs/media is a closed bubble, the exact kind of thing they accuse leftie pubs of being. The primal draws of BSDI and being above it all lead some to miss their own projection.

          Not exactly sure what your problem with Conor F is. I think he is good ( so obviously it’s inconceivable that others disagree). The Atlantic already had more intellectual diversity then any right wing pub and most leftie pubs. So good for them. I get why people don’t’ like Williamson but i don’t’ have a problem with not reading him if i don’t’ want to. The leftie complaining about this is not a good look. The Atlantic is a more diverse outlet than any on the right. Good. It makes me like them more.Report

        • Well, my point is that the Atlantic’s historical niche is oversaturated right now. Combine that with a political media landscape that is shifting somewhat, and it may well be that they need to adapt.

          A lot of these questions come down to what an outlet’s mission is. The National Review has an ideological mission and that precludes leftward voices. The same applies to Salon or Mother Jones. Is that what The Atlantic considers itself? If so, then including Williamson (and Frum and maybe Friedersdorf and maybe Goldberg himself) makes little sense. My sense is that while they lean to the left, they do not view that as part of their mission.

          The same applies to the NYT. If they want to throw caution to the wind and adopt an ideological mission, they certainly can. But until that day, they should continue represent views further to the right than the average leftward can agree with. I think criticism of the WSJ editorial page are fair and represent a cautionary tale. Become expressly ideological and suddenly Bret Stephens becomes too liberal for you.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          And this is what makes it BSDI, the notion that somehow both sides are symmetrical and staffed by intellectuals of equal levels.
          So a Paul Krugman needs to be “balanced” by a David brooks, or an Amanda Marcotte needs to be “balanced” by a Kevin Williamson.

          Except that Krugman and Marcotte are fairly representative of mainstream liberal thought.

          Brooks and Williamson are not representative of conservative thought.

          They represent a tiny sliver of the Republican/ conservative tribe, one that is isolated and marginalized and utterly irrelevant to decision-making.

          Jim Hoft and Paul Hinderaker are much more in the mainstream, much closer to what is really moving the Republican Party nowadays than anyone who writes at NRO. Hell, Lou Dobbs is practically a Cabinet member and the three hosts of Fox and Friends can swing national policy on any given day.

          And it isn’t isolated to the federal level.
          Walker’s Wisconsin, Brownback’s Kansas, Scott’s Florida; All these places resemble the comment section at Gateway Pundit more than they do a “deep thought” piece by Williamson.

          I think this is what bugs most of us liberals, is what appears like an attempt to drape a veil of intellectual modesty over the ugly nakedness of the conservative movement.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman One thought I’ve been having that I haven’t committed to yet is that the Atlantic lost most of their female subscribers / regular readers a long time ago (like years) because, when it came to women writers, they only published (white) contrarian feminist voices (thus pushing off both non-contrarian feminists and leftist women who don’t particularly identify as feminist but don’t want to hear about “the end of men” or whatever). I know that’s part (not all) of why they lost my interest, because I felt like they only hired women to be difficult, and that was irritating. Where were the female voices on stories that weren’t about being a contrarian feminist?

        So, having zero purchase in that demographic, it then matters little whether they hire a guy who talks about mass-scale hangings of women or not. In their logic, at least.

        I’m not sure if it’s true or not. But if true, it would explain a lot.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Maribou says:

          When would you say that was? Assuming that Megan McArdle was a contrarian voice, was Garance Franke-Ruta? Those were two of the bigger voices at The Atlantic when I used to read them regularly, along with male Derek Thompson (who is still there) and David Inviglio (who left the writing biz). I am mostly curious since I stopped reading them for different reasons (mostly that they were boring).

          Regardless, what you say makes sense. I’d be curious what kind of changes have occurred with regard to The Atlantic’s readership over the years.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

            Caitlin Flanagan and Hanna Rosin comes to mind.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Will Truman says:

            @will-truman Might be a bit earlier than those two – not sure when they started? Flanagan, Rosin, Sandra Tsing Loh – it seemed like the function of women in the Atlantic’s writer’s room was to tilt at the windmills of the feminist establishment. Like “Ms. has got it all wrong and *I’m* going to tell you why.” That’s a feeling I had rather than a literal analysis I did, so it might be unfair, and it’s why I’m not committed to it as an explanation.

            I do know that in the early 2000s I was an eager subscriber and by 2010 I had gotten … bored, yes, part of it, but also just vexed that anytime a Big Story was by a women, it seemed to have a contrarian-feminist slant. Where were the stories by women about science, education, arts, etc etc etc – I never read the Atlantic primarily for the politics in the first place, and at some point, I remember really noticing that women had A Role in their writers’ room and seldom ventured outside of it.

            So my guess is that they’d already lost a lot of their female demographic, that they know this, and that they thus think it’s just fine to work with Williamson. Because they aren’t going to be losing subscribers they didn’t previously have.

            (My objection to Williamson is visceral – I don’t want to give money or even attention to anyone on any side of the abortion debate that thinks mass public slaughter will *improve* the situation, or if they don’t mean that sincerely, is willing to pretend they do to get attention. Generally, I don’t buy into any public intellectual who is willing to call for mass slaughter of anyone. Once someone does that, in public, I don’t really care how smart and thoughtful they may or may not be otherwise. They’ve already proven they’re not worth my attention. It takes a lot to convince me otherwise. I would suspect, though cannot prove of course, that many other readers feel the same.)Report

            • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

              (I should note that it wasn’t any of the contrarian-feminist writers I named *themselves* that were the problem for me – I don’t mind reading contrarian-feminists even when they say dumb things, if they say them interestingly, which those named writers generally do. It was that that seemed – fairly or not – to be the only thing women at the Atlantic were *allowed* to do, at least in a feature-article prominent kinda way, and that was weird and kinda creepy. Wasn’t a principled choice so much as a “why am I giving them my money again? I’m not actually enjoying reading this, it’s getting progressively less full of beautiful writing about culture other than politics, and this bothers me…” falling away.)Report

            • Richard Hershberger in reply to Maribou says:

              I do know that in the early 2000s I was an eager subscriber and by 2010 I had gotten … bored, yes, part of it, but also just vexed…

              This snippet, without the feminist angle in particular, describes me as well. Fifteen or twenty years ago the arrival of the new issue in the mail made me do a happy dance and set aside whatever else I was reading at the time. I let my subscription drop about ten years or so back. I found less and less that actively engaged me, and more and more than simply annoyed me.Report

        • bookdragon in reply to Maribou says:

          I’m going to second this.

          The idea that advocating that women who have abortions should be hanged is somehow admirable, a sign of a ‘true intellectual’ who will pursue his thoughts wherever they lead him makes me happy to remain unsubscribed.

          I’m sure someone will say I’m being uncharitable, but let’s face it, would they hire a woman who advocated castrating men guilty of sexual harassment? To echo what a number of other women have said on on this, men can say that nearly of quarter of adult women should be hanged and get plum media positions. Women who say that men who advocate things like that should be unemployable are swatted down and dismissed because we’re being ‘difficult’.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to bookdragon says:

            What is especially eye-rolling is the Evasion Dance.

            “Abortion is murder and should be treated as such!”
            “So that means executing millions of women?”
            “I didn’t mean that, it was a metaphor, except it really is murder and should be treated as such!”
            “So what do you mean?”
            “I mean that abortion is murder and should be treated as such!”

            Ladies and gentlemen, your Deep Thinker.Report

            • Maribou in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              “Abortion is murder and should be treated as such!”
              “So that means executing millions of women? Like lethal injection? Are you serious?”
              “I had hanging more in mind.”
              “Wait, are you SERIOUSLY serious about this??”

              “I didn’t mean that, it was a metaphor, except it really is murder and should be treated as such!”
              “So what do you mean?”
              “I mean that abortion is murder and should be treated as such!”


              (I know what you mean about the dance, but it’s extra appalling to me *because he doubled down first* so I wanted that noted as well. IRL it went on even longer than this:

              And wait, did he ever actually retract? Or did people just say we shouldn’t take him saying that seriously?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Maribou says:

                I’m not aware of him retracting, but I have seen a couple references on Medium and elsewhere to the effect that we shouldn’t take him literally because he is a Deep Thinker or something.

                I see it as part of how we collectively dismiss or downplay violence by “respectable” people (read: white educated men) as not something to take seriously.
                Part of it is because true, Kevin Williamson isn’t going to lead a mob of people to Planned Parenthood with a rope.

                But Williamson is part of the group that has already jailed women for suspicious miscarriages, and winks and nods at terrorist murders of abortion providers.

                That’s how things always work. None of the Deep Thinkers who wrote scholarly essays on eugenics or sat at the Wannsee Conference ever killed anyone directly.

                And they all tut-tutted in at the loud vulgar people who carried out their wishes as if, somehow, they had something entirely different in mind.

                I’ve now written this comment or a variation several times, and I guess it is evident how objectionable I find these people.

                Not the Trumpists themselves, but the Williamsons and Jonah Goldbergs and the like who keep fervently pretending that the train tracks of modern conservatism didn’t lead to this exact spot.
                As if somehow we got sidetracked somewhere, that the true destination of conservative thought is over there yonder in a bright beautiful place of racial harmony and international peace and economic prosperity for all.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Maribou says:

                I’m still not clear if the problem is with hanging specifically or with execution in general.

                Because if it’s execution in general, it still makes no sense to me that we’d allow somebody a platform if they believe that abortion is murder and that murder warrants execution as a punishment, but we absolutely can’t give them a platform if they believe both of those things at the same time unless they also pretend that there are no practical implications to that combination of beliefs.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Though abortion is a divisive issue, more than half of U.S. adults take a non-absolutist position, saying that in most – but not all – cases, abortion should be legal (33%) or illegal (24%). Fewer take the position that in all cases abortion should be either legal (25%) or illegal (16%).


                I don’t agree with Williams in the slightest about abortion, but the simple fact that so many people do means that I want to read him and his ilk about this. I don’t read to be comforted, but to be afflicted. And as the left/Dems have gotten their collective asses handed* to them in the last several elections, I also want to know what the half of the electorate that doesn’t agree with me or them thinks about it. As Will points out in this thread, there are plenty of magazines (Vox, Salon,etc.) that can give the leftist viewpoint. If the Atlantic wants to separate itself from the pack, picking up Williams is a solid maneuver.

                *This alone demonstrates the raw need to get information of the sort that Williams provides. I could care less if it is liked, wanted or felt needless by some. It is needed, like a shot of camphor oil.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Aaron David says:

                @aaron-david But if you want to hear about why people are pro-life from a legal, not only a moral, perspective, there are literally HUNDREDS of people you could be listening to. Why did the Atlantic pick one that would prefer a version of the United States that included widespread public executions (and as far as I know, *still*, he never took it back)?? There are so many healthier, less crackpottish, and IMO as someone who knows lots of prolife people, *more representative* writers out there… does it really matter how bright someone supposedly is if they’re willing to make those kinds of appeals?

                We don’t have to do the work of moving the Overton window on behalf of our ideological opponents, in order to understand their positions, surely? It would be enough to listen to those of them that aren’t this appalling, but hold positions that are akin-except-for-the-awfullest-parts?Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Maribou says:

                Simple, because that is a point of view I haven’t encountered. I don’t care about healthy or not, crackpot or not, feminist or not… I care about perspectives. I already have an opinion. It might change, it might not. But I am not going to increase my knowledge of the world and its people by limiting it to opinions I find acceptable. That tells me nothing.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Aaron David says:

                “because that is a point of view I haven’t encountered”

                *blinks a lot of times*

                Wow. Really?

                It’s an opinion (appalling as I continue to find it), that I’d encountered multiple times before I turned twenty. Not a common opinion. Definitely a crackpot opinion. But not one I was able to avoid knowing about. Heck, I’ve had it screamed at me from sidewalks as I helped someone walk into a building so they didn’t have to face that opinion alone.

                Surely there are other ways to encounter opinions you find unacceptable than by enshrining their holders in a comfortable writing job with a comfortable paycheck.


                And also, I don’t think that answers the question of “Why did the Atlantic have to pick THAT one?” unless you are suggesting that the primary purpose of the Atlantic is to make sure you and people like you are aware of opinions you would otherwise find unacceptable, even revolting, by paying people to express those opinions. Which … seems implausible to me. But maybe that is what you meant?Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                PS I will grant that the screamer didn’t want public executions by *hanging*, they were fixated on *frying* instead. If hanging is a necessary factor in how unheard-of said opinion is, I’d have to go to the Taliban, which I’ve only encountered in video, not face-to-face, and I’d be up to age 30, not 20.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Maribou says:

                “Surely there are other ways to encounter opinions you find unacceptable than by enshrining their holders in a comfortable writing job with a comfortable paycheck.”

                It’s not that he is being paid nor comfortable (there are many writers who hate me ((Jew-ish gun owner)) that are paid and comfortable.)

                It’s that this is a voice that isn’t uncommon, that needs to be heeded by the other side, that needs to be known, that needs to be argued with. Right now the left is sticking its fingers in its ears when it comes to much of America.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Aaron David says:

                “But I am not going to increase my knowledge of the world and its people by limiting it to opinions I find acceptable. That tells me nothing.”

                Also I disagree with that rather strongly. Do you really believe you only learn from opinions you find unacceptable?

                Even if you do believe that, do you really find the ones that advocate the mass murder of millions to be necessary to your learning? Do you spend much time on the other such opinions that you have potential access to (maybe you do! someone just wrote a book about the books that dictators have written…)? Do you want to give all those folks well-paid writing jobs, if you had your druthers?

                If not, why be more in favor of this dude than all those other dudes (and ladies)?Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Maribou says:

                I am not more in favor of this dude more than other dudes. I am in favor of all other opinions.

                But I am especially in favor of being able to read opinions of people that one side wants to shut down. I lost family in the holocaust, yet I still want to be able to read Mein Kampf. To learn from it. That idiotic ideas such as toxic masculinity, ideas that explicitly blame me, are given voice and allowed to be deflated.

                And I never want people telling me what I can and cannot read, see or think. If Goldberg thinks Williams will be good for his magazine, then that is his choice. A far better one that allowing the mob to make his choice, such as the NYT did.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Aaron David says:

                @aaron-david As an aside, if anyone is using “toxic masculinity” to explicitly blame you, they’re using it wrong. The term was coined by men to explain something that they saw as harming men *and* women, something propagated by both men and women, a toxic *ideal* of what a man should be, rather than to explain problems as being men’s fault in general. I’ve seen people use it wrong, to blame some particular man for something, either more or less tongue-in-cheek – but I’ve also seen a lot of men get offended that people have adopted a term to disparage the ideal they don’t like, just because said term has the word “masculine” in it.

                But I wasn’t arguing that Goldberg didn’t or shouldn’t have a choice. I was arguing that by choosing to uplift (and pay) Williamson, he was further indicating something I’d come to expect from the Atlantic a decade ago, that they really weren’t interested in me or my demographic, that they really didn’t care what we thought or if we wanted to read their magazine.

                There’s a big difference between wanting Mein Kampf to remain available as part of the historic record (I want that too) and wanting people to hire the sort of people who do propaganda work for today’s violent abusers of other people, and give those people a megaphone.

                People complaining about Goldberg aren’t *mobbing* anyone . They’re expressing their opinions the same as Williamson is expressing his (except their opinions don’t, you know, generally involve mass slaughter). Why do you find them so much more objectionable?

                I’m still stuck on: Why do you think Williamson is a voice you wouldn’t hear otherwise, that that opinion is one you’d literally never explained before? From my perspective, it’s a voice I *cannot avoid hearing*, grew up hearing, and am totally sick of hearing. It’s a voice that’s been prioritized and protected by society, despite being labeled (imo accurately) as extreme, over plenty of other voices that are a lot harder to find and hear. The relative absence of that voice in public discourse doesn’t make me think I don’t understand, it makes it feel like the mainstream of power is finally willing to draw some lines in the sand to protect me, not just themselves…

                Again, I’m not saying shut him down and don’t let him talk. I’m saying, “Oh, it appears the Atlantic has been colonized by outright misogynists. Well, it’s not like I’d subscribed to them for a decade anyway.” and I’m also saying Williamson is threatening, like anyone calling for public executions is threatening. I’m fully aware the world is full of people calling for public executions. I just don’t understand why you feel like before this you weren’t able to access his opinions…. like the Atlantic hiring him somehow “allows” you some freedom you didn’t have before? I mean, he already had a national platform before that!

                Maybe I’m just really not understanding your point. But it feels like you’re treating my complaints and questions as a stalking horse, rather than engaging with what I’m actually saying. Perhaps you feel that way too? I was interested in understanding your perspective, because I find it baffling, but if we’re just going to talk past each other, that probably won’t happen.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Troublesome Frog says:


                Hanging is a public, spectacular type of execution. The only *reason* I can imagine for specifying that you would prefer hanging to other methods of execution is that you want it to be public and spectacular.

                The public, spectacular execution of literally millions of women, perhaps tens of millions of people, mostly women, depending on how you interpret his later comments about “the entire architecture of abortion”, is something that I don’t think anyone should call for, in jest or otherwise, nor is it particularly a *moderate* or a *reasonable* voice that would call for such.

                I also do not feel that people who “reasonably” enough think that starting on some particular date and then going forward, people should be executed for abortions in a quiet, due-process-having, and non-public way, should be treated as moderate or reasonable. Even the mainstream *pro-life* movement agrees with me, strongly, about that, so I don’t think it’s a particularly remarkable position to hold. There are a wide range of positions that advocate banning abortions, and even having serious legal consequences for mothers, not just providers, without calling for executions of any sort.

                But any time anyone *with any kind of platform* is saying that had they their druthers, something that is currently quite common practice would be punished with hangings, I am *far more concerned* about amplifying that person’s platform than I would be about people wanting lethal injections, for the simple reason that widespread public hangings are a means of terrorizing and/or wooing the common person, and always have been. I feel *more threatened* by someone who advocates them, thusly, than I do by other types of desires for violent punishment of what the speaker perceives as wrongdoing.

                I don’t know how to make it clearer than that, particularly considering that I’ve already said I’m talking about a visceral reaction to someone I’m pretty sure the Atlantic doesn’t give a fig for my opinion of, rather than a rational evaluation of said person. Honestly, my disgust at anyone claiming there should be widespread public executions of millons of women is so visceral that I can’t really imagine *why* anyone finds it puzzling, or finds it puzzling that I find it even more disgusting than the idea that a millions of us might be put to death humanely.

                Obviously they’re both appalling to the point where this entire conversation AND the Atlantic giving the guy a platform both feel utterly absurd to me – are we really talking about some person who literally thinks half the women I know are murderesses who deserve death, regardless of the method? Writing for the freaking ATLANTIC, of all the venerable and boring institutions he could be writing for?? As opposed to being a street corner crackpot I’d be happy to forget I’d ever heard of ??? I feel like we’re in some alternate reality…

                But yet there is still a difference between them. One is revolting and also threatening, the other is threatening and also revolting.

                Because hanging carries a few thousand years of symbolism that (most) other methods of killing don’t.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                Reading this over I feel the need to clarify that any time I say “you” above, the “you” in question is really a lazy substitute for the habitual use of “one” that I had trained out of me when I moved to the States b/c pretentious (according to those doing the training – I just use it because I grew up with the french “On” which is bog standard regardless of class aspiration or lack thereof), and not “you,” as in TroublesomeFrog. Or anyone else here for that matter. It sounds a lot more direct and confrontational to me on reread than I had any intention of it being.

                No doubt it’s the disgust and visceral aversion to the writer we’re discussing, seeping through at the edges.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Maribou says:

                Honestly, my disgust at anyone claiming there should be widespread public executions of millons of women is so visceral that I can’t really imagine *why* anyone finds it puzzling, or finds it puzzling that I find it even more disgusting than the idea that a millions of us might be put to death humanely.

                I agree that public, spectacular executions would be worse than humane, private executions and people who advocate for the former are being especially awful, but it struck me as a strange thing to fixate on given how extreme the position is to begin with. It’s probably just how my head is wired.

                I get that we all have different things that set us off, but I’m wondering how much less pushback Williamson would get in general if he was advocating nitrogen asphyxiation or life in prison instead. My guess is not much, but I could simply not be getting my head around what some people are feeling.

                If he’d be considered a member of polite society for advocating a clean, dignified execution, I’m barking up the wrong tree and I’m really out of step with what my fellow humans think is gross. But if he’d still be beyond the pale, I can’t quite square that circle given that you can loudly pretend to believe that his two axioms are correct as long as you are classy enough to pretend not to know where they lead.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                “you can loudly pretend to believe that his two axioms are correct as long as you are classy enough to pretend not to know where they lead.”

                Can you? I don’t know of anyone I respect who both advocates for the death penalty for all murders, and also claims abortion is murder. Let alone someone who does both those things but doesn’t link them. They are out there but I don’t know them, or read them. I certainly don’t think they are respected by more than a tiny slice of society.

                Most people who advocate for the death penalty have some kind of fuzzy-edged rules about who does or doesn’t deserve it, ie not every murderer does. (I get that position, myself, though I don’t hold it – I mean, philosophically I don’t think anyone should be killed by the state, but viscerally I agree that, say, an undoubted serial killer of dozens with a proven escape record is probably better dead than imprisoned.) Generally those fuzzy-edged rules are more than flexible enough to exempt people who have had abortions.

                I feel like you think my own, personal position somehow doesn’t make any sense (like beyond being an irrational, visceral reaction in the first place) and I have no idea what part of it you are taking issue with from what you’ve said.. it seems like you’re questioning something I’m not saying, or not intending to say at least, and I’m oblivious to what it is, so I’m kinda fumbling around in the dark without a flashlight here.

                Maybe I’m just sickened enough by the entire premise that I am having trouble understanding things. Would not be the first time.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                (when I say “should be killed by the State” I of course mean, “should be killed by the State if it can be avoided”. which of course opens a very large kettle of worms around when it can and can’t be avoided, as we discuss around here pretty often. but you know. I should’ve said “should be killed in cold blood by the State” or just “executed” or something.)Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      What a strange thing to say… its not a BSDI piece at all, it is a critique of Conservative Libertarianism and rather harsh on the state of Conservative movement/project in toto.

      If this is what you’re afraid of, I have no idea what you’d hope for.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

        A Southern Babtist will find reasons to explain why Presbyterians are really a cult, why Methodists are really a cult, and why it should be freaking obvious that Episcopalians are just Catholics.

        I have no idea what you’d hope for.

        Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

          @jaybird in an unrelated, but totally related way, did you see this article on 538 ranking the priority of issues the Dems should run on…though ostensibly about the things they should ignore?

          Oh dear.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

            I only skimmed it and thought “okay… they seem to understand that something is wrong, but they don’t seem to understand exactly what… but they understand that they don’t seem to understand exactly what…” and then skipped to something else.

            I will give it my full attention after the gym tonight.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

              Well, not sure its worth your full attention, but maybe 3/4 your attention.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Marchmaine says:

                @marchmaine I will note merely that this made me snort

                “Wait … REGULATIONS? Are only writers participating in the midterms?”Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Maribou says:

                Yeah, I chuckled too.

                Then again, in 2018 the Dems might be able to run a cat with nothing more than a placard taped to its fur that says REGULATIONS and still pick-up a seat; but I wouldn’t necessarily put it to the test.Report

          • Sigh… What do the Dems want to win in 2018? My scoring system gives +1 point for each Congressional seat, governor’s office, and state legislative chamber flipped. I point out that on that scale, the Dems gained in 2016 — with the net gains coming in the West (but not California, Oregon, or Washington). There are more points to be taken in 2018 — Flake, Heller, Sandoval, Martinez, a US House seat in Colorado and multiple seats in California — but not if these are the issues. With no disrespect, the issues that are at the top of these lists are the issues preferred by left-leaning Eastern pundits. If these are what the DNC pushes, points gained in the West will be despite the DNC, not because of it.

            I got a survey from the DNC the other day that suffered from exactly the same problem. I declined to fill it out, but did write a letter telling them that as a registered Dem in the West, I felt insulted.Report

            • Maribou in reply to Michael Cain says:

              @michael-cain “I declined to fill it out, but did write a letter telling them that as a registered Dem in the West, I felt insulted.”

              Please God, they will actually read it and listen. I wouldn’t be *against* you sending a copy of that same letter to our local senators and the gubernatorial candidates, if you felt so moved.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Read the whole thing.

            The main thing it left me asking was “does anybody actually know anybody who doesn’t either have a college degree or isn’t actively getting one?”

            Now, the democrats seem to be poised to take advantage of the whole regression-to-the-mean/currently out of power thing and I imagine that they will easily blow past my watermark of 150 seats come November.

            But I’m not confident that the folks who are in charge of knowing why will know why when all is said and done.Report

    • Dave Regio in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      He’s not wrong for lambasting libertarians that supported Trump for reasons that are painfully obvious. He’s also not wrong for believing that classical liberals don’t have a home anywhere.

      Seriously, could you see someone like me with my political views and professional background having any interest or patience in entertaining the opinions of the more left leaning types that fall to the left of your more pro-business Democrats? The second we get to Dave’s Ironclad First Law of Capital, the conversation will go sideways. Guaranteed.

      The whole Williamson outrage thing? Meh. People need to find a new hobby.Report

      • Dave Regio in reply to Dave Regio says:

        By the way, is his quote about hanging people available in the full context of the discussion where it took place?

        That would be helpful to see because given the way people tend to be completely full of shit on social media, some verification would be helpful for my own purposes.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Dave Regio says:

          @dave-regio I haven’t seen the full context from *before* he said what he said, but the screenshots I linked to (that jessica valenti posted) are the most context I’ve seen.

          I went looking to see if I could find you something more contextual and the best I can come up with is this (obviously very biased in the same direction I am) boing boing article, which nonetheless *includes actual audio from the time of the tweet* where Williamson reiterates that he did, in fact, mean exactly what he said.
          He has a certain good ole boy shooting the shit in the garage around a poker table appeal (not sarcastic, in other contexts I feel that pull myself) … if you don’t let yourself think about exactly how many women he’s talking about prosecuting and executing.

          The full unedited podcast is available here:

          “And someone challenged me on my views on abortion, saying, “If you really thought it was a crime you would support things like life in prison, no parole, for treating it as a homicide.” And I do support that, in fact, as I wrote, what I had in mind was hanging…. if the state is going to do violence, let’s make it violence. Let’s not pretend like we’re doing something else.”

          Again, note this isn’t him just responding in context on Twitter, in the heat of the moment, this is him bringing it up in context on the podcast he was co-hosting at the time, and reiterating that he meant it.

          And wrt to your other comment, yo, it’s not that I need a new hobby, I literally didn’t spare him or the Atlantic 10 minutes of my mental time till I came over here to proofread stuff and saw that literally no one had thought about the demographic angle – ie the Atlantic has already stopped caring if they upset women to the point of blue bloody outrage. Then I was trying to spell out why it is that he’s threatening and disgusting because I was asked. Honestly, long-term effect, I’ll probably be less likely to read Atlantic articles that I already probably wasn’t going to read? If you think this is outrage, I’m not sure you’ve seen outrage?

          But it isn’t the one loony high-paid “intellectual” pebble that leads to my and many people’s frustration and yes, even sometimes even outrage, it’s the cumulative effective of an entire giant mountain of them propping up the people who can actually change things for the worst.

          Not a lot of people remember that the popular theologians who propped up apartheid *literally* studied theology under the auspices of the popular German theologians who gave “intellectual” cover early on to the Nazis. They cloaked that business in respectability under the Nazis and then *their literal academic apprentices* cloaked it in respectability under the apartheidists. Mass murder and systematic oppression by the millions isn’t some novel, unexplored idea we have to keep an eye on, it’s a continuous intellectual thread we’ve pretty much been tangled up in for centuries… it’s just that it’s only in the last few that we’ve had the societal ability to carry it out.

          So when I see people trying to cloak mass murder in respectability, in any context, yeah, it seems worth a few minutes of my time and vocal objections.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

            sorry, that was the wrong link for the full-length unedited podcast.

            should have been

            (I”m so outraged I was carelessly multitasking and focusing on completely unrelated things, rather than paying attention to my cut-and-pastes 😉 )Report

            • Dave in reply to Maribou says:


              Thanks for the info.

              Pardon my being short, but I am at an airport with a three hour delay with an estimated landing time of 3 am in Orlando so by all means take my blunt nature with a grain of salt and you were probably kinder in your response than I expected someone to be (I would have been fine if someone lost their s–t on me because it feels like this discussion needed a couple of live grenades thrown into the mix).

              I’ll go through these thoroughly and report back. In the meantime…

              So when I see people trying to cloak mass murder in respectability, in any context, yeah, it seems worth a few minutes of my time and vocal objections.

              I’m never going to fault someone for that, but that’s pretty much what every pro-life person will say as well, right?

              Talk soon….Report

              • Dave in reply to Dave says:


                Quickly, I’ll say that the hanging comment may not matter as much because the idea that women that have abortions should be charged with homicide and prosecuted accordingly is more than enough to piss off quite a few people to the point where it almost doesn’t matter what’s said after and even hinting towards the death penalty will, rightly, draw fire.

                At the same time, none of this is anything I haven’t heard before so maybe I’m just desensitized to it. That or I’m just old.Report

              • Dave in reply to Dave says:

                About to take off but thank you, your links clarified it. The podcasts check out. Good stuff.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Dave says:

                @dave-regio Good. I’m always happy when I can hook someone up with some primary sources. It’s the librarian in me.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Dave says:

                Thanks for the context, and safe travels!

                FWIW I wasn’t so much offended by your comment – I didn’t assume you meant it literally 😀 – as that it seemed uncharacteristic and so I felt like calling you on it. And to some degree using it as an excuse for stump speeching a bit…

                As for your question about what pro-life people would say:

                Of course it’s what many** of them will say, and I respect them for saying so. Many people I care for are very strongly pro-life, people I see as morally upstanding and admirable are pro-life, I was pro-life until I became more focused on maternal autonomy in 9th grade, and only really stopped feeling conflicted at some point after I learned in college how vastly (many orders of magnitude) more common than I realized miscarriages are, etc etc.

                I don’t agree with pro-life folks. Legally, and morally about other people insofar as I contemplate me having power over them or them having power over me, I am pro-choice – although my actual personal beliefs are complex and sad and full of awareness of loss and tragedy. I understand broadly where pro-life people are coming from though, because I used to live there myself. I still can’t imagine many situations in which I’d be willing to have an abortion (though I don’t have the moral certainty to claim I would *never* seek one), and generally if someone I know is on the fence, one of my gut reactions is to hope they find another way.

                But, you know, most of those pro-life people I know (including teenager me) who might feel the need to object strongly to the respectability of abortion won’t go around embracing, however “squishy”-ly, the violent execution of hundreds of just the people *I personally know* either, and millions of people more generally. In fact *exactly* none of them will.

                Which makes *them* people I can peacefully disagree with even though we run into places where our beliefs make us see some degree of evil in the other person.***

                And *Williamson* someone who, when my gaze happens to alight upon him, I feel the need to cry foul about. I wish he was such a rare specimen in the world that he merited more of my attention, but really I’m aware that he’s a pebble, as I mentioned, and so I hadn’t given him much thought until now.

                Crying foul over someone (rather than some idea) is always a moral/visceral distinction, not a rational one, for me – so I won’t pretend to have a purely abstract way of defending it.

                As to why I have that reaction, or visceral moral reactions in general, I’ve read most of the major post-antiquity and pre-20th-century moral philosophers without getting much of an inkling as to what the deepest answer is. There’s something to be said for Camus and some of the other existentialists on the topic, although the connections I intuit there are certainly not direct ones, and I won’t impose an essay about them here.**** (Nor, if I’m honest, am I willing to expend the effort to write such an essay any time soon. Oh, too too lazy flesh.)

                ** not all – not everyone who wants abortion outlawed lays any claim to it being murder, I’m not sure even *most* pro-life proponents do
                *** Regardless of whether it exists, I know we both see it in each other – and this happens even with some very dear friends of mine.
                **** something more practical and less existential to be said for biologists like Franz de Waal and Sapolsky on that topic, too, though I find that most of us who yearn to understand are seeking more than just a scientific understanding, even if the meaning sought is purely personal rather than metaphysical in nature.Report

  5. Oscar Gordon says:

    WP5: I didn’t see the actual tweets listed in the paper, but I have to wonder if the message format is more of the issue than simply exposure to opposing views.. A person can say an awful lot, and demonstrate an understanding with nuance, in 288 characters, but that requires a person to very, very carefully craft a message. Twitter is not a platform that encourages the careful crafting of messages.

    In short, the problem is probably not exposure to opposing views, it’s exposure to opposing sound bites and tag lines that do an excellent job of stoking anger through inflamed rhetoric.Report

  6. Kolohe says:

    In another story at the intersection of world politics and Jeffrey Goldberg elevating conservative voices, my first instinct is to tell MBS, “Parliament or STFU & GTFO”, but of course he’s counting on the fact that the ‘popular will’ is even worse. And he’s probably not wrong about that.

    Still, he’s full of it, when he’s going on about the magnitude of Iranian ambitions.

    (eta: this from the New Yorker looks like it just came out. Came across it when looking for the link to the Atlantic interview, but haven’t read it yet.)Report

    • greginak in reply to Kolohe says:

      It was impressive how he kept trying to equate the Iranian leadership to Hitler. I read that as trying to curry favor Goldberg in the lamest possible way. What is Wahhabism was good stuff to.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to greginak says:

        It took me too long to realize that his narrative of 1979 was received history, not lived history.
        (and that he was only of high school age when Sept 11 happened)Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

          If it were not for absolute monarchy, you wouldn’t have the United States. The absolute monarch in France helped the creation of the United States by giving it support.

          Yeah, and how did that work out for them?Report

  7. Jaybird says:

    WP7: I’m not sure how they’re using the word “smart”, here.

    I could see an argument for why Libertarians are right up there with the Greens and Natural Law for being among the dumb-dumbs.

    Oh, they’re using “analytical” as the starting point.

    You might think being “analytical” is a good thing. We associate “analysis” with people who are smart, well-informed and relatively dispassionate in their assessments.

    Hello police? I had a number of bases in front of my house and they’re gone! Someone stole them!

    Who wrote this anyway?

    Oh. Tyler Cowen.

    Now I feel bad for piling on.Report

  8. Another CK says:

    A comment.Report

  9. Brandon Berg says:

    WP7: On the one hand, as a member of the libertarian master race, I’d like to take this and run with it. On the other hand, as a member of the libertarian master race, I do have some misgivings about the potential for sampling bias in this study.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      Henry at Crooked Timber has a good take:

      Now, however, the game is up, thanks to an unfortunate concatenation of events. Conservative intellectuals defected en masse from Trump, thinking that it was a fairly cheap gesture of independence, but Trump got elected. Not only did this damage these intellectuals’ personal ties with the new administration and the conservative movement, but it opened up the way for a conservatism that basically didn’t give a fuck about policy ideas and the need to seem ‘serious’ any more. The result is that conservative intellectuals don’t have all that much influence over conservatism any more.

      The problem is that without such influence over conservatives, these intellectuals’ capital with liberals and the left is rapidly diminishing too. If conservative intellectuals don’t have much of an audience within conservatism itself, why should people on the opposite side listen to them any more? Their actual ideas are … mostly not that strong. Some of them are good writers (David Frum, for example), but good writing only goes so far. The only plausible case for paying attention to conservative-intellectuals-qua-conservative-intellectuals, is that perhaps the pendulum will swing back after Trump, and the old regime be restored. That might happen, but you wouldn’t want to betting serious money on it.

      If this analysis is right (and it obviously may not be) Stephens, Williamson (up until this afternoon) and the others are running on fumes. The adherents of old-style centrist liberalism might still have some nostalgia for the old days when men were real men, women were real women, and associate editors of the New Republic were real associate editors of the New Republic. But that’s a poorish substitute for actual influence and an actual audience, especially when the actual liberals and leftwingers that are the audience for publications like the Atlantic don’t want anything to do with these people. The very brightest will probably be OK – but it’ll be a cold enough future for the others.